For the last five months my family and I have been living abroad. As we are middle class white folk we get to call ourselves "expats" (see this fantastic Guardian comment piece: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/mar/13/white-people-expats-immigrants-migration ) but really we washed up in the Caribbean as immigrants, just like many millions of people around the world.
We travelled with just three suitcases. The Husband's work secondment had arranged accommodation and a car - what more did we need?
The last few months have taught me that, really, we need very little. All the paraphernalia (detritus?) of life in London - for the most part, completely unnecessary. All we really need, it seems, is a week's worth of clothes and a washing machine. A couple of picture books and a few favoured toys. A small amount of toiletries and plenty of sea water, sand scrubs and fresh Caribbean air.
We've missed our treasured friends and beloved family back home, but we've found it easy to keep up on Skype. And to make new friends - on a tropical island there is no room for stuffiness, just a lot of open arms and willingness to adopt a new family into island life.
We've missed, it's true, the hustle and bustle of central London - the night life, the culture, the endless events and activities. But the slower pace of life has left us with plenty of time to enjoy quality time together. Walks along deserted beaches have replaced dodging the crowds on the South Bank. And we enjoy what events do happen here all the more for it. Instead of queuing for the latest trendy London restaurant, we can pop into any number of local places here and tuck into the same always-delicious fish tacos and conch fritters.
I've learned that, contrary to my first fears, I'm actually pretty self-reliant. I've cared for The Boy singlehandedly for five months, including a week where I was flat out with 'flu and several days when he turned into a terrible toddler tyrant from the seventh circle of Hell. I've managed my own mental health fairly well too, which is a relief as mental healthcare out here in the Caribbean is fairly minimal.
But I'm looking forward to getting back to our local community in London, where help is never far away and where Grandparents, albeit not on the doorstep, can at least visit without having to book transatlantic flights.
I think we will come home with a much greater appreciation for our home, and friends, and general way of life. I hope we can bring home some new Caribbean habits - the "what does it matter?" mindset and a disregard for both materialism and consumerism.
Plus lots and lots of rum cocktails, of course.